New Land Trust Aims to Preserve Ground for Food Production

Feb 19, 2015

Iowa’s newest land trust aims to connect young farmers looking for land with farmers looking to retire.

Suzan Erem, president and founder of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, otherwise know as SILT, is passionate about preserving land for food production. She says right now it’s hard for people to get started farming, and she hopes this will help.

“Our first donor, Mary Ellen Miller, heard about this and told me it was the answer to her prayers,” Erem says.  

Its my dream to own an organic, diversified farm. Right now its really hard to find land. There's lots of competition from developers, and some farmers sell land to larger farms. - Kate Mendenhall

 Miller is currently planting nut trees on 40 acres of land in southern Iowa. She wants to ensure the land will be used for sustainable food production instead of being tilled under for commodity crop production, so she donated it to the trust.

Kate Mendenhall, who is looking to rent or buy land in the Okoboji area, says opportunities like this could help her get started.  

“It’s my dream to own an organic, diversified farm. Right now it’s really hard to find land. There’s lots of competition from developers, and some farmers sell land to larger farms. I am hoping I can find something through SILT,” she explains.  

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Erem, Miller, Mendenhall and Attorney John Baker, who works with Iowa State University Extension’s Beginning Farmer Center.

Hear River to River weekdays from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Iowa Public Radio.